Christmas in Ireland: What will it look like under current coronavirus restrictions?
Life & Style

Christmas in Ireland: What will it look like under current coronavirus restrictions?

CHRISTMAS IS still almost three months away, but there are concerns at what the celebrations will look like this year.

Ireland's Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has already warned that Ireland is facing Covid-19 restrictions for at least a further six to nine months, and the public have been urged to plan for Christmas and Halloween "within a Covid-19 environment".

 

What have politicians said about Christmas in Ireland this year?

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government hope to allow people to travel abroad to see family this Christmas.

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He acknowledged that Ireland has some of the strictest coronavirus rules in Europe, but said if we want to live with the virus long-term that means allowing more air travel and giving more travel options for the public.

 

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he would love to see the virus suppressed so that family members will be able to visit their loved ones in nursing homes this Christmas.

He said restrictions were "heartbreaking" for residents, family, and staff and said by Christmas the hoped " the most liberal visiting regime that we could have safely is brought in."

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (Photo: Julien Behal / RollingNews.ie)

Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, welcomed the news that Ireland's largest indoor Christmas festival 'Mistletown' is set to go ahead in Dublin despite coronavirus restrictions.

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She said: "Mistletown is a fantastic initiative, and presents an opportunity for attendees to enjoy a festive event in a safe and socially distant manner."

 

What have health experts said about Christmas in Ireland in 2020?

Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has no plans to  prevent public celebrations of Christmas, but admitted that final decisions would likely be made closer to the time.

He said, "The single greatest predictor of how safe it will be to participate in activities, either at Halloween or Christmas or any other time, is the underlying circulating levels of the virus."

Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer (Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie)
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Professor Pete Lunn, head of the Economic and Social Research Institute's Behavioural Research Unit said we should "Plan for the milestones such as ... Christmas and New Year's Eve within a Covid-19 environment.

"Be innovative in how you can celebrate safely with loved ones."

 

So, what will happen this Christmas under the current coronavirus restrictions?

Household visitations

Most of Ireland is currently in Level 2 of the Government's Living With Covid Plan, which allows pubs and restaurants to operate under strict conditions.

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However, recently the Govenrment have introduced a ban on household gatherings unless it is from just one other household and the number of people is under six.

This means, should these restrictions still be in place on Christmas day, you will be able to hold a Christmas dinner with one other household so long as there is no more than six people present.

 

Christmas Markets

Under Level 2, which most of the country is currently under, up to 50 people can attend organised indoor events, or up to 100 in larger venues.

Up to 100 can attend organised outdoor events, or 200 in large outdoor stadiums with a normal capacity of at least 5000. This means Christmas markets are likely to go ahead, but possibly with pre-booked time slots to ensure the number of people does not exceed the allowed amount.

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Mass

Attending Christmas Day or Midnight Mass is the most important Christmas traditions for countless people in Ireland-- but will it take place in person or will we be watching online?

Under Level 2 of the Government's Living With Covid Plan, up to 50 people are allowed to attend indoor religious services at one time, so some of us will be able to celebrate Mass in person-- others, however, may have to watch online or on TV.

 

12 Pubs of Christmas

A relatively new, but quickly popular tradition, the 12 Pubs of Christmas sees groups of friends travelling to 12 different pubs in one night, with different rules-- such as no swearing allowed-- in place for each one.

Under Level 2, 'wet' pubs are open, but only to groups of less than six, and travel between 12 different venues in one night is definitely going to be discouraged.

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Plus, should any counties be in Level 3 by Christmas time, all pubs will only be able to serve customers outdoors-- which won't be fun in the middle of winter.

Christmas Shopping

Essential retail outlets have remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and this will continue even if Ireland goes into lockdown again.

And when it comes to shopping for Christmas presents, such as toys, jewellery and clothes, under Level 2 all retail outlets will remain open, so you can shop local for your loved ones. This is the same in Level 3.

 

Visiting family abroad at Christmas

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government hope to allow people to travel abroad to see family this Christmas.

He acknowledged that Ireland has some of the strictest coronavirus rules in Europe, but said if we want to live with the virus long-term that means allowing more air travel and giving more travel options for the public.